Denton: Big Disparity Between Home and Away Games

By John Denton
April 3, 2014

CHARLOTTE – The Orlando Magic haven’t inspired much confidence this season with their play away from home, but they head into Friday’s game in Charlotte armed with this ammunition: Their most recent victory came against the Bobcats and one of their four road wins came in the Queen City.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the season for the Magic (21-54) has been the team’s disparity between home games and road games. At the Amway Center, the Magic have a respectable 17-20 record and own impressive wins against powerhouse teams Oklahoma City, Indiana, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers.

However, the Magic have often resembled a different sort of team on the road with a league-low four victories outside of the city limits of Orlando. And the broad discrepancy between home games and road games doesn’t end there for the Magic. To wit:

The Magic are averaging 100.5 points per game at home, but just 93.3 points on the road. They shoot 46.1 percent from the floor and 35.6 percent from 3-point range at the Amway Center, but just 42.7 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from beyond the 3-point line on the road.

Of Orlando’s top five scorers – Arron Afflalo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson – all score more on average at home than away. Harris (16.3 ppg. at home and 13.5 ppg. on the road), Vucevic (14.9 ppg. at home and 13.5 ppg. on the road) and Oladipo (14.7 ppg. at home and 13.5 ppg. on the road) have the biggest differences in their scoring depending on the venue. Nelson (42.6 percent in Orlando and 36.5 percent for away games) and Oladipo (43.8 percent in Orlando and 39.1 percent for away games) shoot the ball much better at home than on the road.

At home, Orlando whipped five teams from the rugged Western Conference – the Thunder, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Lakers and Pelicans. However, Orlando did not win west of the Mississippi River all season, dropping 15 games.

At home, the Magic have rallied for seven victories when trailing after three quarters; on the road, they have come from behind to win just twice in 30 games when trailing after three periods.

Vucevic said it will be vital in the years to come for the Magic to become a much more formidable road team if they are going to make some serious noise in the Eastern Conference.

``It’s very important for us to win on the road. That’s really something we have to improve upon if we want to become a good team,’’ Vucevic said. ``You can’t just win at home; you have to be able to win on the road, too. This is going to be a good opportunity for us to see if we’ve made improvements.’’

The playoff-bound Bobcats are one of just three teams that the Magic have beaten multiple times this season (Atlanta and Detroit are the others). The Magic won 92-83 in Charlotte on Dec. 11 because of a big fourth-quarter performance from Nelson.

The Magic had one of their most stirring victories of the season last week against the Bobcats in Orlando. Down as much as 16 points in the first half, Orlando clawed back into the game behind the relentless play of Vucevic, who tallied 24 points and 23 rebounds for the sixth 20/20 game of his career. They tied the game with seven seconds to play on a clutch 3-pointer by Afflalo and they pulled away in overtime for an impressive 110-105 victory.

``It will be a good test for us. Charlotte will be waiting for us. The fact that we beat them here will play into that,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``They are really good at home and they are playing for positioning right now. So we’ll get a good shot. Hopefully, we’ll be able to respond from this (Cleveland) game and I fully believe that our guys will be ready to play and look forward to competing.’’

Vucevic, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, is one of the few players in the NBA who has had some success this season at slowing down Charlotte all-star center Al Jefferson, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the month for March. Vucevic has learned to do his work in the post early against Jefferson and to stay down on his arsenal of pump fakes.

Vucevic sees no reason why the Magic shouldn’t play against the Bobcats on Friday after beating them in Orlando last Friday night. Road woes or not, Vucevic said the Magic should know going in that it can stand toe-to-toe with Charlotte and not be concerned about where the game is being played.

``We know that we can play against this team at home, so we’ve got to see if we can do it on the road,’’ Vucevic said. ``It shouldn’t be really different if we have the same mental approach and the same aggressiveness. They are a good team and obviously they are going to the playoffs, so we will have to play very well to beat them.’’